SOCIAL AND POLITICAL LIFE l8l
gentleman there would be no one to rale the common peoples and without the common people there would be no one to feed the gentleman." Once the King of Chi asked Confucius about government^ and on being told of the Doctrine of Social Status, the King exclaimed, "Well said^ sir! If the king is not kingly* and the subjects do not fulfil their duties as subjects . . . how can I be fed, though be plenty office in the county?9' So between the sunshine from above and the sap of the earth from below? the trees prosper. Some trees are more vigorous than others and draw more sap from the earth, and people who sit under their shade and admire their green leaves do not know that it is the sap that does it.
The officials know it, however. Candidates for magistracy sitting and awaiting their chances in Peking know by heart and constant conversation which district is "fat" and which district is "thin.3* Theyy too, with a literary flourish, speak of the national revenue as "the people's fat and the people's marrow/' The process of extraction of human fat and human marrow is a science comparable in diversity and Ingenuity to organic chemistry. A good chemist can convert beetroot into and a really good one can draw nitrogen and make fertilizer out of air. The Chinese officialdom have nothing to lose by comparison.
The redeeming feature is the absence of caste or aristocracy in China. The yamen class is not a permanent hereditary institution, like die landed aristocracy in Europe, and it is impossible to identify it permanently with any group of individuals. There has been no family in China which can boast that its ancestors have never worked for the last five hundred years, like some aristocrats in France or the Habs-burgs IE Austria, except Gonfucius's family, which has not for the last two thousand years. The descendants of the army, which conquered China in 1644, may be truly not to have worked for the last three hundred years, and now with the ftll of the Manchu Dynasty they still refuse to work—that is, most of them. They are a most interesting case for socialists to study, as showing what can happen to a dass of people fed by the nation for three centuries, for they are the true "leisure class" in China. But they are the exception.